By Sally Wallis, Zande Basenjis
Puppies learn far more from their mother, aunts and cousins, grandparents and siblings than we can teach them in the short weeks they are with us, so the longer (within reason) that they can be kept with the pack, the better. We were fortunate enough to have Finnbar around until he left us as a nine-week old -
During her pregnancy, Plessy decided she didn't like her Aunt
Ziggy so we placed a temporary 'lid' over the alcove bed which
she can jump into the out of at will (normally)
The pack did its level best to make a comfortable bed for Plessy,
they let her make herself as comfortable as possible on top of
them and provided blankets but there came a time when they could
no long help the young mother. The "maternity ward"
was introduced into the Aga alcove and the whelping box made ready.
Then the great day arrived and onto a bed of shredded Financial Times, Finnbar was launched into an unsuspecting world. This invaluable pink broad-sheet is made from a slightly shiny paper which is less absorbent than the tabloids but doesn't ink off onto puppy pads...
(Contrary to what you may think - he DOES figure in this picture, under the strip of paper by his mother's left ear.)
Finnbar was a singleton and we were very conscious of the need
to socialise him and make up for his lack of playmates. All the
time he was confined to the safety of the "maternity ward",
we did our best to play at being Basenji puppies. The very fat
wee boy was handled by all and sundry, he was cuddled and played
with for most of his waking hours. He had a ball, a rabbit, various
toys, bones and until she became bored with him, his doting mother.
Lacking siblings, he had no-one to shadow box or play King on
the Mountain with, but we were sure that the oldies would take
him in hand as soon as we let them.
Unless one of us had time to be with him, he played alone with his 'rabbit' and toys and later he lay on his back and planned his next moves
Eventually however, he and one of his rabbits found their way to the great outdoors and from there, he never looked back. The weather was warm and sunny, the garden smells exciting, and Finnbar showed he was out-going in more ways than one !
Finnbar was extremely lucky that we had a house guest during his early weeks. She never tired of playing with him and he adored her. It was only now that he could get about in the garden that he started to lose some of his excess poundage. He was later getting to his feet than if he had been motivated by siblings, preferring to drag himself around, but when he realised how much faster he could cover the ground on all fours, he straightened up and set off with typical Basenji free-swinging gait.
Finnbar took most of his lessons and all his meals in the garden. At first it was not an unqualified success.
"I don't like this stuff."
" Must I ?"
" Well OK, I'll take it from a spoon if you insist"
We noticed pack participation as soon as he was large enough to join the others...... and you can read more about it and enjoy more photographs of this on the next page, all about Finnbar 's Second Stage of Education.
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Finnbar's Second Stage Education